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Design of a Universal Canister System for US High-Level Waste

Publication Type
Conference Proceeding

To support the safe clean-up mission of the United States Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM), a concept for a universal canister system for storage, transportation, and eventual disposition of certain high-level waste has been developed.  This concept has been developed to support the near-term storage and transportation goals of high-level radioactive waste at a number of clean-up sites, including: the cesium and strontium capsules at the Hanford Site, cesium that will be processed using non-elutable or elutable resins at the Hanford Site, and the calcine waste at Idaho National Laboratory. Specifically, the universal canister concept has been developed for near-term, on-site dry storage of the cesium and strontium capsules at the Hanford Site. In addition, the universal canister system concept would be compatible with a deep borehole or a mined geologic repository concept.


The universal canister system has been developed with the goal of providing a sealed canister that would be compatible with dry storage, transportation, and eventual disposition without ever opening the canister.  This universal canister system is based on the concept of nested canisters (i.e., canisters inside of canisters), which provides the ability to move to dry storage in near-term, but also provides flexibility to ensure that the universal canister would never have to be opened regardless of the disposal concept.  Additionally, certain monitoring capabilities that will be integrated into the universal canister system are being developed to provide real-time, waste configuration information.


This paper describes the universal canister concept and presents detailed shielding, thermal, and structural analyses demonstrating that loaded universal canisters would satisfy current regulatory requirements for storage and transportation of high-level radioactive waste. Once a disposal pathway is selected and disposal regulations are developed, this concept is positioned to satisfy those requirements as well.